MINUTES WITH JOY EGBEJIMBA
In 2013, Joy Egbejimba started a handbag line with the aim of delivering beautiful quality designs at an affordable price. Today, the Nuciano handbag, which was launched in the United States, can boast an impressive market presence and steady growth in sales. In this interview with KONYE CHELSEA NWABOGOR, Joy Egbejimba speaks on the inspiration behind the brand and also on plans to produce locally.
Tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Joy Egbejimba, I am the designer and CEO for NUCIANO handbags. My brand was launched in 2013 and since then, I’ve worked very hard to grow my business in all aspects. I have also focused on perfecting the craftsmanship of the brand while exploring ways to give back. My focus has been on creating a sustainable brand while also teetering on the border of trendy. Nuciano sometimes likes to offer a “surprise” in design by creating colourful, exotic pieces, What does Nuciano mean?
The word NUCIANO is a derivative of my grand mother’s name “Unnukachiano”. I was partially raised by my grandmother, and I spent most of my formative years with her and my grandfather. So, what attracted you to leatherwork/making bags?
I’m one of those ladies who get special calls from the big stores once handbags go on sale. Sometimes, I would buy a handbag for over $3,000 and after few months, it becomes just like every other handbag in my closet. My goal was to bridge the gap between quality and price. The Nuciano brand has been in business in the US for a while now, why are you just launching in Nigeria?
During the independent handbag award competition, we receive over 83% votes from Nigeria. We also received numerous requests on our social media from Nigerians, wanting us to bring the bag home. More importantly, I also noticed that big fashion houses from Europe come to Fashion events held in Lagos to get inspiration from local designers. That, made me realise it was time to come home and be a part of the fast growing fashion movement. What can you say makes the Nuciano brand unique and different?
The Nuciano brand represents colour, structure, sophistication, and quality. Asides our classic designs, our quality and price point also make us quite unique. Who is the ideal Nuciano Woman?
A woman who is self-made, independent, generous, intelligent and strong. Any notable figure who has a Nuciano bag in her closet? Oprah Winfrey, Yvonne Orji, MC Lyte, Sarah Michelle Gellar to mention a few. What is it like designing and selling handbags in a very competitive market like the US?
It’s hard competing with the big household names like Michael Kors, Tory Burch etc but knowing your market niche and keeping your focus on satisfying that niche is the key. What advise would you give someone who is about to go into the leather business? Do your research, have a plan and stay focused.
What challenges do you often encounter with running the business?
The very first challenge is findings the right group of people to work with. We struggled with that at the beginning but we now have a stellar team that is helping me propel the business further. Will the Nuciano brand be considering other aspect of fashion in the near future?
Nuciano is definitely considering branching out to other aspect of fashion. We will be launching smaller leather goods like belts for both male and female at our launch event soon. We are also introducing makeup bags as well. Do you have plans to produce in Nigeria?
Absolutely, it’s definitely something I’m considering doing. During the 2018 Nigerians in Diaspora convention in Washington DC, I met a representative from the office of Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and I brought to his attention some of the unfathomable things I noticed in the leather industry. A lot of the leather I use for my products come from Nigeria raw, gets imported into USA to get processed which I then purchase from the leather merchant. We both agreed to further sit down to find a way to bridge this gap and improve our leather industry here in Nigeria. Does your personal style influence your designs?
My personal style definitely influences my brand. I used to think it didn’t but everyday it’s becoming more apparent to me that it does. Which Nigerian celebrity would you want to rock a Nuciano bag?
I have no pick. I would love for all of them to own a Nuciano Bag. I love them all and I’m very proud of how they are representing our culture and country.